This Is How The Church Of Euthanasia Cult Started

At the end of The Jerry Springer Show's episode "I Want To Join a Suicide Cult," which aired on August 11, 1997, Jerry Springer took to the stage to give a short speech condemning his interview subjects: "The point is, cults are dangerous and not entitled to the protection of religion, not because of what they believe, but because of what they entice their adherents to do." The text is taken from a transcript stored on the website of his interviewees, the Church of Euthanasia

The Church of Euthanasia portrays itself as an anti-human religion with one commandment, "Thou shalt not procreate", and four philosophical pillars: suicide, abortion, cannibalism, and sodomy. It should be noted that in each case, the Church of Euthanasia only promotes voluntary or consensual forms of population decrease, i.e. no killing.

However, despite their posturing, it seems more likely that the Church of Euthanasia is an activist project taking performance art to an extreme. Evidence for this can be found in the "Religion" section of the their websites page on Antihumanism, which dismisses the subject: "[Religion is] proof that humans are stupid." Further proof for the cultish aspects of their group serving merely for aesthetic shock value is their self-description on their official Twitter page: "a non-profit educational foundation devoted to restoring balance between humans and the remaining non-human species, through voluntary population reduction." The point, which they also made to Jerry Springer, is that no one will hear the message without an evangelist. 

Unabomber for President!

For the founder of The Church of Euthanasia, such tactics as appearing on The Jerry Springer Show in a performative act of conversion were nothing new, nor even the most extreme. In the 1996 Presidential Election, Chris Korda, inventor, artist, musician, developer, and founder of the Church of Euthanasia, helped launch the Unabomber for President campaign. Their bumpersticker ethos read "FED UP WITH 'PROGRESS'? Write-in UNABOMBER For PRESIDENT '96."

To be clear, as Scott Winkour was in his contemporary piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, the group, Unapack, were not interested in endorsing Ted Kaczynski, but the 35,000 word rant he wrote against modern society. Chris Korda protested this heavily in the piece when asked why she chose the name rightly associated with terrorism: "I haven't committed any acts of violence. I'm a pacifist. The Unabomber used violence to gain access to the media. It's not something I'd do, but he has presented us with an opportunity we must exploit." More interestingly for us is that they followed up with a rationale for risking the association anyway, explaining "We've recognized that in a mass society you can't effect meaningful change without seizing control of the mass media. Our whole focus is on creating something irresistible to the media." Considering how even though the Church of Euthanasia's activities have died down since seizing the public attention in 1997, they keep on cropping up in articles by Film Daily, Backpackerverse, and ... here ... the tactic certainly works.

Thank you for not breeding

So now that we have unpacked the nature of Chris Korda's activism as guerilla theater, we should return to the Church of Euthanasia. According to an information panel for the Church of Euthanasia's 2019 retrospective at the Parisian gallery Gosswell Road, Chris Korda was inspired by a dream in 1992. During the dream, she was visited by "The Being" who spoke for Earth's inhabitants in other dimensions and it warned them that our ecosystem was failing. The core point that Korda understood was that every aspect of environmental collapse resulted from the overabundance of a single species: homo sapiens. So the only way to continue was to halt procreation. Korda woke up muttering the new motto of the Church of Euthanasia: "Save the Planet – Kill Yourself."

To facilitate their suicide aspect, the Church of Euthanasia also gave out resources such as how to asphyxiate oneself. However, according to the St. Louis Dispatch, after a 52-year-old woman in Missouri followed the instructions in 2003, the Church of Euthanasia removed the instructions to avoid the threatened legal ramifications.

Yet another controversy Korda purposefully sought was their video "I Like to Watch," which was, as they describe on the Church of Euthanasia's webpage for it, "a four-minute music video which explores the connections between the September 11 attacks, professional sports, and pornography." They released it on December 11, 2001, prompting the Washington Post to describe the footage as "our new porn." 

What now?

Whether it's a cult, a performance pice, or simply a massive joke, the Church of Euthanasia has only been in the headlines of weird lists and retrospectives. In 2019. an interviewer for the Boston Herald pointed out that Korda kept on slipping between the present and past tense when talking about the Church of Euthanasia.

Korda smiled and responded with "It's more alive than ever." Apparently, for instance, an independent sub-group had started in Belgium without even reaching out to Korda. By the time she discovered it, the church had already converted hundreds, if not thousands of people. "So what that tells me is that the Church of Euthanasia is now officially, it has been like this for years, it's completely a self-sustaining meme. Younger people just keep rediscovering it. We don't need to keep doing the same things. Even if we could do the same things — which we can't, that would make no sense. But it has a life of its own now, and it's arguably more relevant than ever, most of the predictions we made in the early 90's came true."

Now, the conditions of the climate have worsened, prompting more people to embrace various forms of antinatalism, a philosophy that is against the idea of procreation. However, as an article on the rise of antinatalism in The Guardian ends, antinatalists have always believed that the world was no place to bring children, meaning that the anxiety we feel now is simply inherent to being alive.